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Garden City

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She broke the news to her mother the next morning at breakfast. They never made it to work.

“Mother, please calm down, don’t you understand? I’m 19. I can make my own decisions. I’m not going to Mexico. I want a home, a permanent place to stay put, raise children, have friends. You can’t change my decision. We are being married next week. You can come if you want. We’re planning Saturday at the courthouse, if the judge is available.”

“You have to go to Mexico. I won’t know a soul there, don’t know the language, don’t know the money. Meredith, don’t desert me now, when I need you the most. Don’t you remember your Bible lessons? ‘Honor thy father and thy mother.’” She paused when Meredith crossed her arms in front of her chest, then glared at her disobedient daughter. In a flat monotone she sneered, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

Meredith most of all hated the double whammy. She despised two in a row, not only because they rarely flowed from one to another fluidly, making some sense, but also because she knew her mother’s thought process was no longer functioning.

“Bloom where you are planted, baby. You’ll see, we’ll be fine. You’ll meet somebody new, somebody better than that dirt digger who’s stealing your heart. It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

Meredith, panicked at the thought of her precious Andrew lost, reached for the flyswatter. She was ready to swat her way out of the house and into the arms of her beloved husband-to-be. The flyswatter was not on its hook, so she grabbed the nearest thing, a cast iron skillet, and swung as hard as she dared. Kathleen Lynda Sullivan dropped to the floor, her skull dented slightly at the temple.

Stunned, Meredith stood over her mother’s body; she’s wasn’t sure for how long. Numb, feeling no remorse nor shame, she sat down pensively at the table and drank a cup of coffee. This could ruin her plans completely. Jail time instead of a honeymoon. She needed a foolproof plan of disposing the body, and could only think of one really safe place.

She called the office and told them that both she and her mother had come down with food poisoning. The rest of the day was spent packing Meredith’s things, disposing of her mother’s, and cleaning the apartment thoroughly. By midnight, everything was finished.

Dead weight is difficult to manage, especially for one as petite as Meredith. She solved the problem by using a sheet to slide the body down the steps and into the Winnebago. She slammed the heavy metal door, climbed into the driver’s seat, and ripped “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves” off the rearview mirror. She drove to Andrew’s house and parked on the road. Two hundred feet of driveway exhausted her, but there was no turning back. Meredith continued along the side of his house to the backyard and their garden. The soil, still loose, was easy to dig, and she had a shallow grave before two o’clock in the morning. She dumped her mother’s body in the grave, and stared down at her disheveled hair and dirty apron. Some rite would be appropriate, but what?

In the back of her mind this next part made sense, but it wasn’t until the summer that she really appreciated her actions. As she stood in the cold night air, she remembered a purchase earlier in the week. It was still in the car. Seeds for next year. Forget-me-nots on sale. She tiptoed quietly to the car, retrieved the slender packets, and opened them. Holding them above the grave, she sprinkled the seeds reverently over her mother, covering her from dented skull to platform shoes.

“All’s fair in love and war, Mother. All’s fair.”

The next day, she walked into the plant and resigned, explaining that she was going to be married and that her mother had already left for Garden City, New Jersey, for another position, this time a job in retail.

“She got bored with the computer. Said she needed people. She sends her deepest regrets and apologizes for her abrupt departure, but the job starts next week. Just mail me her last paycheck and W2 forms, and I’ll forward them to her when she gets a permanent address. Thank you for your kindness, cousin Jimmy, and good luck in Mexico.”

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